Sickening crash footage of drone's final flight into exploded wind turbine
Drones are amazing machines that allow us to capture footage and see things that we would not normally be able to. Drone pilots use them for filming at heights and distances that we couldn't otherwise reach. Small and very portable, they are becoming more common every day. But drones are still very expensive. A recreational drone, such as the DJI Phantom 3 in this video costs almost $2,000 Canadian ($1400 US). Each flight is nerve wracking for the owner, as wind, electrical interference, pilot error, and malfunctions are all too common complications that can send a drone plummeting to the ground. Flying at great height, or near objects poses a potential risk and it is always a relief when the drone returns safely to the ground.
This drone pilot has traveled to a large field that contains several giant wind turbines. There has been an explosion of one of the large propeller blades that has made national news. The blade fractured under stress and it split with a violent crack that sent fiberglass shrapnel raining down all around the turbine. The huge blade was left dangling uselessly with sheets of material hanging dangerously. The investigation into the cause is continuing.
This pilot sent his drone up to inspect the blade and capture close up footage that would provide clues about the cause of the incident. The blade was filmed from multiple angles and heights. The wind turbines are over 400 feet tall. The cost to erect one is more than 4 million dollars. The blades alone weigh a staggering 12,000 pounds each and cost over 1 million dollars. The blades spin, powered by wind, and the result is the generation of electricity. This process requires the use of massive and powerful magnets and electrical coils within the turbine hub.
The drone was brought close to the hub and stopped. The pilot was adjusting his position on the ground to allow a good line of sight from below, in order to maintain a safe distance between the drone and the turbine. But something went drastically wrong. The drone began to drift straight at the tower, unresponsive to the controller below. The pilot knew something was amiss and he struggled to fly the drone backwards and even upwards. With a sickening sound, he heard the carbon propeller impact the turbine tower. The drone does not record audio, but the owner heard it clearly, even from a distance. After several rapid cracks of drone blades, one cracked and the drone tilted up against the steel tower. It began a rapid death plunge and the drone pilot knew there would be no recovery. It screeched and whined as it picked up speed and dove downwards. The camera records wildly unstable images of the ground, the tower, and the sky for a few seconds until it impacts with the concrete base of the turbine platform. The drone shattered and broke into many pieces.
The pilot made a very rapid recovery of the drone, nervous about the hanging carbon blade above. He gathered the drone body and the camera pieces, knowing that the drone would never fly again, but hoping that the footage could be recovered from the SD card. After reaching the safety of the road far away from the tower, he inspects the drone and video tapes it. Recognizing the extreme damage sustained, he comments that he is actually physically nauseated by the cost of this unfortunate flight. Any drone pilot who has ever had a crash will relate to this feeling.
The footage of the wind turbine was recovered and was very productive, but the last recording of the crash itself was rendered unwatchable by the sudden shutoff of the camera. After months of consulting with computer and drone experts wiithout success, the pilot sought assistance from an engineer who was skilled in the use of computer software and technical equipment. Using a program called Stellar Repair, the engineer was able to repair the footage.